Showcasing the Crucial Role of Clinical Research at Mass General

A researcher discusses her science during a poster session of clinical research day.

With 1,800 active clinical trials at any time and one-third of clinicians involved in research, Massachusetts General Hospital is working every day to test new drugs, advance strategies for early diagnosis and disease prevention and improve patient care.

This work was showcased earlier this month during the 17th Annual Clinical Research Day hosted by the Division of Clinical Research of the Mass General Research Institute. The daylong event included:

  • A keynote address on leveraging the natural modifiers of cardiovascular disease for patient care by Hal Dietz, MD, from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Johns Hopkins University
  • A panel discussion, “Can Genetic Studies Lead to New Treatment?” featuring Dietz, Mass General’s Roy Perlis, MD, MSc, and Heidi Rehm, PhD, Luk Vandenberghe, PhD, of Mass Eye and Ear and Kali Stasi, MD, PhD, Director of Translational Medicine Ophthalmology at Novartis. The panel was moderated by Maurizio Fava, MD, Director of the Division of Clinical Research
  • Two poster sessions showcasing a total of 356 research projects
  • The presentation of hospital-wide and department-based clinical research awards
Roy Perlis, MD, MSc, and Heidi Rehm, PhD, discuss the potential for genetic studies to lead to new treatment strategies during the panel discussion at Clinical Research Day.

Mary “Kay” Ryan Awards

Another highlight of the day was the second annual presentation of the Mary “Kay” Ryan Awards for Excellence in Support of Clinical Research. The award was established to honor Kay, as she was known at Mass General, for her devotion to clinical research investigation, investigators and study staff. This year, the DCR received 56 nominations from 21 departments.

Two awards of $500 were presented to Caitlin Stafford, a Clinical Studies Specialist in the General Surgery/Section Colon Rectal Surgery, and Yangling Chou, a Research Laboratory Manager in the Department of Neurology.

Caitlin Stafford

“Caitlin is absolutely an ‘unsung hero,’ who works tirelessly in the background without ever trying to promote herself and her incredible accomplishments,” wrote Grace Lee, MD, in Caitlin’s nomination for the award.

“Because of this, members of the surgery department who stumble upon her from word of mouth are constantly surprised and amazed at what a valuable resource she is.”

“Yangling has an amazing amount of experience and knowledge in the how-to’s of clinical research at Mass General. I am just starting as a PI in clinical research, and she is ALWAYS my go-to person if I am not sure how to get something done,” wrote Alice Lam, MD, in Yangling’s nomination.

“She goes above and beyond, making herself available to help and find answers in a timely manner,” Lam added. “She has been a last-minute life saver for multiple grant applications I have submitted. I am always learning from Yangling!”


About the Mass General Research Institute
Massachusetts General Hospital is home to the largest hospital-based research program in the United States. Our researchers work side-by-side with physicians to develop innovative new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent disease.
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